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Let There Be Light

By: Guy Tulloh
Posted: July 22, 2008, from the March 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Strong lighting should be used here. This could be combined with less intensive lighting, as most spas’ reception areas are located near the front of the facility, where natural light from the street can be utilized during the day and stronger lights can be turned on at night.

Be very careful which lights are used in display areas. You do not want a light that washes out the color and marketing imagery of your products and merchandising. Therefore, something similar to a mixture of downlights—say, 30–70% metal halide or similar—could be used. Ensure that the light source is not too close to product displays, thus causing items to heat up. Similarly, if you intend on backlighting a shelf, make sure that there is suitable ventilation for the heat to escape.

Main corridors and nonessential areas

Softer lighting can be used here. This type of lighting also is ideal for creating different effects, such as washing the main walls as a point of interest by placing it on the side of the corridor rather than down the middle. Also make sure that these lights can be placed on dimmer switches so that you can change the mood of the space. This also would help to accentuate any bright colors used in the spa. For example, a blue wall where the light hits it will appear to be a slightly lighter shade of blue. In shadow it might look almost navy or black.

Facial and treatment areas

These obviously are two of a spa’s most important areas in which to use the correct lighting. It should achieve the following:

  • The right color of light is most important so that the client does not choose a service, such as a formal makeup, which, once outside on the street, looks completely different from what it did while in the spa.
  • The lighting should not be too hot. You do not want a light that makes therapists feel as though they have been under a tanning lamp all day.
  • Lights must be directional, so that you end up illuminating the client’s face—not the back of their head or, even worse, the floor.
  • Finally, the lights need to be banked onto groups of switches so that when the spa is only half-full, you can turn off some of them, which saves on operating costs.

A mixture of downlights and metal halides is the most effective; ideally, two downlights with one metal halide. They sit at both ends of the color rendition scale, and although one is very bright light, the other is very adjustable, so you are able to achieve illumination that makes for a noninvasive environment while still providing therapists with an excellent light source to make their work easier.